On January 13th of 1962, Xavier beat #6 Villanova 87-66. The specifics of that game have been lost to history, at least in terms of a quick Google, but that marked the last time that the series between the two schools was even. Xavier had won three, Villanova had won three. Since then, things have taken a decidedly Wildcat turn.
The programs have met a total of 34 times in all. 19 times Villanova has been nationally ranked, six times Xavier has. The overall record for the Musketeers is 6-28. Since that day back in 1962, Xavier has lost 25 out of 28 meetings. 13 straight came after that high water point. As independents, the schools scheduled each other frequently. When Nova went to the Big East and Xavier joined the MWC, the series ground to a halt.
20 years after the final regular meeting in 1974, the teams met again on the third weekend of March in 1994. Xavier, of course, lost. In fact, after that 1962 meeting, the Musketeers wouldn’t defeat the Wildcats for 44 years. There are gaps with no meetings in there, of course, but from 1962 until November 19th of 2006, Xavier did not beat Villanova in a basketball game.
That win came hard. Nova had shots to win the game before fouling Stanley Burrell to add some gloss to a 71-66 scoreline. Burrell scored 26, Justin Doellman chipped in 10 and no other Musketeer, among them Drew Lavender, Josh Duncan, and Justin Cage, scored in double figures. That Nova team went on to lose in the first round of the tournament while Xavier, still a year away from that Elite Eight run, dropped a second round game to Ohio State after Greg Oden committed an obviously intentional foul.
Since then Xavier has beaten Villanova two more times. One was a great matchup between #5 and #1 that was probably Xavier’s single game high point in the Big East. In that game the Musketeers got 19 from Edmond Sumner and JP Macura and overcame the Wildcats despite Nova making 12 threes in 24 attempts. It was something of a revenge game for Sumner, who had been knocked unconscious in a frightening collision in a game between the two teams earlier that season. That came in February of 2016.
Exactly three years and six matchups later, Xavier beat Villanova again. The time and meetings between those victories just underline the way Jay Wright’s team has dominated the series. Last season, Xavier played the kind of defense the 2016 team could only dream of and held Nova to only 24 second half points in a vital Big East win. That win sent Xavier on the run that got them ever so close to making the NCAA tournament. When the Musketeers came down to needing just that one more win to get in, it was Nova that stood in their way. Villanova won, Naji collapsed on the floor, and Xavier went to the NIT. So it ever goes with Villanova, the 60 year thorn in Xavier’s side.